Surprise, surprise: Stanford women’s basketball made easy work of their opponent, while the men played another disappointing 40 minutes. The women defended their place as the first place team in the PAC-10 and the fourth-ranked team in America; the men struggle to stay out of the bottom third of the conference standings. Here are your Saturday basketball recaps.
Women defeat USC, 95-51
The Cardinal won their tenth consecutive game and 56th straight home game on Saturday afternoon by putting on a clinic against the Trojans. Stanford outclassed USC from the start, perhaps best evidenced early in the first half when Stanford forward Kayla Pedersen established position in the low post, called for the ball, didn’t get it, and popped out to the top of the key where she knocked down a three. Pedersen’s play was representative of the Card’s performance on the afternoon, in which they outdid the Trojans with size in the post and with an impressive jump-shooting afternoon.
Senior point guard Jeanette Pohlen led Stanford with 21 points and a season-high 12 assists, while freshman Chiney Ogwumike also recorded a double-double on 14 points and 11 rebounds. Pedersen finished the game with 16 points and 5 rebounds, and Nneka Ogwumike put up 14 points and 6 boards. Pedersen went 3-4 from behind three, Pohlen hit 4 of her 8 three-point attempts, and the Card shot 46% from downtown as a team. They were even better from the field, where they shot an efficient 52%.
Although USC had trouble getting points on the board, the bright spot of the Trojans’ outing was the play of junior guard Briana Gilbreath, who was clearly USC’s best player. Her 17 points on 6-12 shooting constituted the only go-to scoring option for the women of Troy, and Gilbreath also had the difficult task of defending Pohlen for much of the game.
Following the game, Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer discussed her desire to run a more open, faster-paced offense and score more with her athletics and tall roster. On the other side of the scorer’s table, USC coach Michael Cooper said that he believes the Card will win the National Championship come spring.
Stanford is now 16-2 overall and 7-0 in conference play; USC is a respectable 12-6 with a 4-3 PAC-10 record. The Trojans entered the weekend with a 4-1 conference mark, but suffered an 81-72 loss to Cal and then one today against Stanford to fall to just above the .500 mark.
Stanford will resume play on Thursday, when they travel to Eugene to face the Oregon Ducks at 6:00 PM.
Men fall to UCLA, 68-57
Stanford coughed up a 14-point lead and a 1-point halftime edge en route to getting blown out of Pauley Pavilion by the Bruins. Once again, Stanford’s downfall was its self-inflicted inability to score; the Card failed to score even 60 points not because UCLA played a swarming defense, but because Stanford did not take good shots and could not make the majority of the good shots they did attempt. Although the Card mustered a solid first 12 minutes to begin the game, their shooting cooled down before settling at a poor 31% field goal percentage and exactly 67% from the line on only 15 attempts. UCLA, on the other hand, got to the line at over double the rate that Stanford did (UCLA shot 33 free throws and made 76% of them). The Bruins also needed 16 fewer field goal attempts to make just 1 fewer basket than the Card did over the game’s 40 minutes.
ESPN’s Game Flow graphic does a nice job of graphing the scoring of each team over the course of the game:
Malcolm Lee provided UCLA with a game-high 23 points, and fellow Bruins guard Lazeric Jones netted 17 points to go with his 6 rebounds. Tyler Honeycutt contributed perhaps the game’s most well-rounded stat line by scoring 16 points, grabbing 8 rebounds, and blocking 4 shots.
The Cardinal got double-digit scoring afternoons from Josh Owens (14 points), Jeremy Green (12 points), and Anthony Bright (10 points), but once again lacked a dependable scoring option when the team needed a basket. Green, the preseason favorite to fill the scoring hole left by the departure of Landry Fields, shot only 4-15 and 2-6 from three. Owens was much more efficient (4-8 from the field and 6-8 from the line) and helped the Card’s cause without scoring (12 rebounds, team-high 3 assists, 1 block) but Owens’s game does not lend itself to being a team’s top scoring option. Stanford will need more intelligent shot selection from Green and a more take-charge offensive mindset from freshman forward Dwight Powell (9 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks) in order to score with the other teams of the PAC-10. Like it or not, Powell is easily the most talented player on the team, and the current landscape of college basketball shows us time and time again that freshmen can be the focal points of successful offenses.
It’s becoming clear that what Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins is able to accomplish during the rest of this season will tell us a lot about his ability to lead this team for the long term. Stanford has shown virtually no improvement to date, and part of that comes with the territory of having a freshman-heavy squad. But a stagnant offense shouldn’t be an attribute of a team that features some of last year’s most coveted recruits, and there are only so many years that this basketball-proud university can sit home in March before athletic director Bob Bowlsby will have to make a replacement.
In all likelihood, Dawkins will at least have the remainder of this year and next year to turn the cardinal and white into a consistent and fundamentally sound team. But sooner or later, good recruiting won’t cut it. Dawkins has to put a winner on the court.
Stanford now holds a 10-8 overall record to go with a 3-4 conference mark. UCLA moves up to 13-6 and a conference second-best 5-2 mark in the PAC-10.
Stanford returns to the Farm for a two-weekend home stand that begins with a match-up against the Oregon Ducks on Thursday at 7:00 PM.